Global shipping summit on carbon emissions held at sea

The goal of shipping’s global regulator is to reach a consensus this week on measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which will keep the possibility of a transformative international pollution tax on the industry alive.

Major shipping companies such as Maersk, CMA CGM, and COSCO, as well as commodity traders such as Trafigura and Cargill, are working hard to reduce transportation costs. Decarbonization is estimated to cost trillions of dollars, so the risk is high.

Representatives from 174 countries and many industry observers participated in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting, a powerful United Nations regulatory agency for shipping. They discussed measures to reduce the carbon intensity of the global fleet by 40% for a week.Compared with 2008 levels, reduce by 2030

The adoption of the plan also marks the first concrete step in implementing the strategy of reducing global shipping emissions by at least 50% by 2050.

Maritime transportation is the lifeblood of global trade. It emits about 2.4% of carbon dioxide emissions every year. Decarbonization is tricky because clean fuels such as green hydrogen, ammonia or methanol are not widely available, and the current cost is much higher than that of fossil fuels.

In the eyes of many officials, the true importance of this meeting depends on whether the member states can not disagree on the issue of climate change, which will make reaching an agreement on an international shipping carbon tax an even more daunting challenge.

“Take practical short-term measures next week is another critical moment,” said Kitak Lin, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization. “Without this, we cannot achieve further ambitions before 2023,”

The so-called short-term framework consists of two parts: the energy efficiency index of existing ships, and the requirement to increase the carbon intensity of ships between 2023 and 2030. The latter measure links carbon dioxide emissions to the volume of goods-the volume of goods may increase-rather than assessing absolute emissions.

The members agreed on Monday to reduce the carbon intensity of ships by 2% annually between 2023 and 2026.

Environmental groups condemned these measures for being unremarkable and almost irrelevant. An advisor to the European delegation stated that the carbon intensity requirement is a “paper tiger” and lacks an enforcement mechanism.

The United States has regained its status as a force in climate negotiations and has strengthened the alliance of European Union countries and some Pacific islands to push for greater ambitions, but this approach also brings the risk of “not being able to make any decisions.” European representative.

Developing countries, especially those in Latin America, are deeply concerned about the impact of the tightening of environmental regulations on the growth of their dependence on trade and the cost of basic commodities. European representatives stated that China and Russia still oppose meaningful actions.

“It is the developed countries that tell the developing countries to stay where they are. The growth of world trade is in the developing countries,” said Edmund Hughes, a senior IMO official for 10 years.

The question in the coming months and years is whether the slow-moving and consensus-focused IMO can accelerate serious negotiations on shipping carbon emissions costs, and whether the company’s lobbying is consistent with its public information.

Rasmus Bach Nielsen, global head of fuel decarbonization at commodity trader Trafigura, said: “Policy makers are sitting on the most important historical mission, which is to decarbonize shipping.” He believes that the International Maritime Organization needs to reach an agreement on carbon taxation in 2023, which starts two years later.

Signs of dramatic changes have appeared within the industry. This month, Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping group, proposed to levy a tax of US$50 per ton of carbon dioxide starting around 2027 and raise it to more than US$150.

The industry also proposes to pay US$2 per ton of fuel, equivalent to US$0.7 per ton of carbon dioxide, to create a US$5 billion clean fuel research and development funding pool. But many representatives worried that this would be used as an excuse to postpone the collection of large carbon taxes.

A pair of unlikely candidates-the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands-proposed a meaningful financial incentive to decarbonize shipping at a price of $100 per ton of carbon dioxide. The Marshall Islands is a symbol of tension. Most of its islands are low-lying and face the risk of global warming. At the same time, it has a large shipping registry and is usually aligned with industry interests.

Albon Ishoda, a representative from the Marshall Islands, said: “If we treat the IMO as a huge ship, then we must now start to turn from the iceberg to the front.” “If we are allowed to have a transformative discussion, then this will drive the acquisition on the ground. progress.”

IMO’s Lim said that the key to avoiding conflicts over tax issues is how to use the funds raised. “If everyone thinks that we can benefit from market-based measures, if it is also benefited by the developing party, then this will actually provide motivation.”

The shipping group may also file a claim for the money. Rolf Habben Jansen, Hapag-Lloyd’s chief executive, said: “If it goes to general government funds, then eventually these costs will be passed on.”

In the end, the industry is increasingly worried that its impact on regulation may gradually disappear, and may be labelled as backward as climate change. “The worst thing for the global shipping industry is the patchwork of regional plans,” said Anne Steffensen, chief executive of the trade agency Danish Shipping Company.

The EU is expected to propose next month to expand its emissions trading system to include maritime transport. If Brussels’ goal is to travel outside the territory, it will send shock waves in the slow-moving shipping world.

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